Feeding someone with a food allergy something they can't have isn't just a whoopsie.

It was revealed at the weekend patients with allergies have been at "ongoing and significant risk" from the meal service at Auckland hospitals.

One patient suffered an allergic reaction after the wrong meal was delivered and there have been 25 near-misses at Starship Hospital in the past year.

The meals are made by Compass Group and it now faces a serious issue over its contract with Auckland District Health Board, which has rightly swung into action to carry out a full review of inpatient food services.


When you suffer from a food allergy, apart from your own home, you'd like to think you're in safe hands eating at a hospital.

Sadly, the mishap and near-misses are just a drop in the bucket of how we view food allergies.

Granted, it's a lot better nowadays than it used to be - with several alternative options offered - but there are still far too many flippant attitudes from those working in our food industries.

It's a tough one, however. Should those who have severe allergic reactions risk their lives - and yes it can be that serious - by going to restaurants like "normal people" and having a meal out.

Six weeks ago I was diagnosed with coeliac disease. Having a meal out or buying food has gone from something I'd enjoy doing several times a week to now something I dread.

I cringe having to have "that chat" to the waiter or waitress asking him or her to point out to the chef that I'm not just gluten intolerant, but coeliac, which means no cross contamination with gluten is imperative.

Did they understand what I just said? Do I repeat it and risk being seen as "that annoying woman at table four"?

It's the fashion in food outlets now to memorise all the orders, but when they don't write down in capitals and underline COELIAC WOMAN AT TABLE FOUR, I get nervous - with every reason. In six weeks I've been "glutened" twice by what have supposedly been gluten-free meals.

With food allergies nowadays so common, should we expect these hospitality workers and kitchen staff to know all of this, and understand that cutting that tomato on the same chopping board as they did the previous order's ciabatta bun could be severely damaging to a customer.

Naturally, I think we do. How annoying am I?